Court limits expert testimony on crash reconstruction and its contributing factors

In this car accident case, the court ruled that accident reconstructionist Leonard Vaughan could testify about the visibility of headlights leading up to the crash based on his experience and review of evidence. However, his opinions that the defendant had a duty to fully stop at the intersection and that his employer was vicariously liable for a traffic violation were inadmissible legal conclusions. The court emphasized experts cannot instruct on how the law applies or offer opinions on legal issues, which invade the court and jury’s authority.

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Expert testimony regarding marketing practices of electronic cigarette and vape products passes the Daubert test

The City of Chicago brought an enforcement action against two e-cigarette companies for 700+ illegal sales to minors. Though the Court entered judgment against the companies for the violations, it declined to hold the owner personally liable as an alter ego. It found use of age-verification systems did not constitute an unfair practice under the consumer fraud law. However, the Court denied the companies’ motion to exclude a marketing expert retained by the City, finding her opinions relevant to evaluating if their social media marketing unfairly targeted youth.

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Court admits image valuation and consumer perception theories with regard to the model and talent industry provided by the Plaintiff’s experts in copyright infringement suit

Wisconsin District Court denied a motion to exclude the Plaintiffs’ expert who used his industry experience to opine on hypothetical negotiation value. The court found his valuation method reliable enough for admission, despite the Defendant’s critiques. It also permitted the Plaintiffs’ survey expert, ruling that flaws in the survey went to evidentiary weight, not admissibility. The Court screens expert testimony for relevance and reliability under Rule 702, not perfection.

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Court confirms the admissibility of the testimony of occupational medicine expert in employment discrimination case  

In an Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 “ADA” discrimination case, the Court denied the Defendant’s motion to preclude expert testimony offered by the Plaintiff opining that certain medical guidelines were outdated. Though the Defendant argued the opinions were unsupported, the Court found the testimony could potentially assist the jury and weaknesses were better addressed through cross-examination and contrary evidence rather than outright exclusion. The Court emphasized letting the adversarial process test competing expert views.

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Court excludes unreliable pharmacology and neurology expert opinions in product liability case; grants summary judgment

In a lawsuit against Vitamin Shoppe, a man alleged its vitamin supplements containing arsenic and lead caused his peripheral neuropathy. He relied on his treating neurologist and a pharmacist to provide expert opinions on causation. The court excluded both experts, finding their methodologies failed to reliably account for the dosage of toxins consumed. Without admissible expert testimony on causation, the man could not withstand Vitamin Shoppe’s motion for summary judgment. The court granted judgment in Vitamin Shoppe’s favor on all claims.

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Court admitted the valuation expert reports presented by both parties in this case involving the termination of a wine distributorship agreement 

In a wine distribution lawsuit, the court denied motions by both parties to exclude expert witness testimony. The court found most issues went to the weight of the evidence rather than admissibility. Citing the less stringent Daubert standard in a bench trial, the court expressed confidence in its ability to properly weigh even questionable expert opinions based on the trial evidence. The court deferred key methodological challenges until trial.

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Court partly admits the consumer survey research and damages findings presented by the defense experts in trademark infringement suit

In this trademark infringement case over the RED GOLD mark, the court ruled on motions to exclude expert testimony. The Plaintiff, Solid 21, sought to exclude survey findings by the Defendants’ expert Mark Keegan regarding whether consumers identified “red gold” as a brand in ads. The Court denied this motion, finding Keegan qualified and his survey relevant to fair use. However, the court partially granted Solid 21’s motion to exclude testimony by another defense expert, Kennedy. Kennedy improperly relied on Keegan’s brand awareness survey to estimate consumer preferences for apportioning profits. The court found this unreliable since brand awareness and purchasing motivations are distinct. The Court also barred Kennedy from summarizing the court’s prior fair use rulings. Overall, the Court allowed testimony by Keegan that his survey measured brand awareness, relevant to fair use. But it excluded Kennedy’s attempts to use Keegan’s survey to show consumer motivations driving sales, finding he misapplied the data. The Court also prevented Kennedy from offering legal opinions on fair use standards. This demonstrates the importance of experts reliably applying methodologies to fit the purpose for their testimony.

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Court limits treating physician’s testimony pertaining to issues concerning the Plaintiff’s treatment 

This case demonstrates the court’s “gatekeeping” role in assessing reliability of expert testimony under Daubert and excluding opinions outside an expert’s direct knowledge and treatment. The decision provides guidance on constraining expert witness testimony to matters firmly within the bounds of the expert’s qualifications and experience.

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Court excludes the unsubstantiated testimony of labor standards expert witness on account of non-compliance with the disclosure requirements of Rule 26

The Court excluded the Plaintiffs’ expert witness report in this fair labor standards act case for noncompliance with Rule 26 requirements. The report lacked a detailed explanation of the expert’s methodology and opinions. It relied on facts not yet available through discovery. Further, it failed to identify supporting exhibits or provide the expert’s qualifications and publications. With no insight into the validity of the expert’s analysis, and given a prior chance to amend, the Court found exclusion necessary under Daubert. Compliance with disclosure rules is key.

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Court qualifies retired judge as legal malpractice expert witness in South Dakota

This case examined the admissibility of expert testimony on the standard of care in a South Dakota legal malpractice claim. The Court ruled the Plaintiff’s expert could opine on the national standard despite lacking state-specific credentials. The Court found no evidence the alleged attorney errors were sufficiently tied to unique local rules and customs to require a state-specific standard of care. The case illustrates that under Rule 702, an expert’s lack of local licensure does not necessarily bar testimony on a national standard in a malpractice suit. It also shows Courts have discretion in evaluating relevance and reliability of expert opinions in such cases.

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  • Recent Expert Challenges

    Accident Reconstruction Expert Witness, Expert Challenges

    Court limits expert testimony on crash reconstruction and its contributing factors

    September 28, 2023

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